IN TWEET: WITHOUT A SINGLE ZOMBIE IN SIGHT, THIS “BACK FROM THE DEAD” DRAMA SCORES BIG NUMBERS FOR ABC. IT’S WORTH A LOOK.
I had just about given up on ABC. I even stopped reviewing their new series because it seemed like each one would flame out as fast as I could post a write-up. That was, until RESURRECTION debuted Sunday night and scored big numbers for the network. With more than 13 million live plus same day DVR viewers, at least you know this one will stick around for a little while.
RESURRECTION is set in the small town of Arcadia, MO where a sub-set of the residents share a common bond: they died years ago and have suddenly sprung back to life. No, they’re not zombies. In fact, they haven’t aged a day and have no idea (at least initially) that they kicked the bucket. Cue scenes of slack-jawed amazement as family and friends witness the return of their loved ones.
Though not a re-format, the set-up here is eerily similar to the French television series LES REVENANTS (THE RETURNED), which created a minor sensation when it aired on The Sundance Channel (click here for my review) and is now streaming on Netflix. Based on the first episode, RESURRECTION unspools like a defanged version of the popular Gallic drama. Where THE RETURNED is dark, dense and downright creepy from the get-go, ABC seems to be starting from a kinder, gentler and more accessible place. It’s an approach that appears to have helped the network break a lengthy track record of post-LOST “conspiracy theory” duds.
The uniformly strong cast is led by Omar Epps, Frances Fisher and Kurtwood Smith. It’s nice to see Fisher rein in her crazy and Smith completely shake off whatever remains of the Red Forman pop-culture shackles. He does some nicely nuanced work here, as does Epps. Fan boys will recognize Mark Hildreth (from the doomed V re-boot, also on ABC) and Nicholas Gonzalez who was offed by a demon on SLEEPY HOLLOW and then “resurrected” here as another small town police officer. Wait, he also starred in RESURRECTION BLVD. Spooky!
There are hints of sinister goings-on peppered in among sun-drenched scenes of small town idyll and a preview of the upcoming season shows a darker turn to the proceedings. Still, the opening hour takes a more casual approach to things. It’s slow without being boring but never really generates much in the way of genuine wonder or dread. It plays it a little too safe, especially when dealing with the inevitable topics of religion and miracles. In the end, it does feel like the pilot was put through the vetting process of a network desperate for a breakout hit. ABC certainly turned out the eyeballs. Now let’s see if there was enough there to lure them back for more.
RESURRECTION isn’t brilliant or earth shattering television and I’m not yet convinced it can sustain itself over the long haul but, it is oddly intriguing in its own right. A capable cast, some potentially interesting plot developments and an A-list production pedigree all add up to a show worth checking out…for a few weeks, anyway.
RESURRECTION airs Sundays at 9PM E/P on ABC.
RONTHINK GRADE: B-